Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Between 2 worlds! Firefox and Chrome

Why can't people get together and build a product that has only "good" features! But the world is not like it? I switch back and forth between Firefox and Chrome due to this very reason. I like them and hate them at the same time.

Remarkably, my list of likes and dislikes is not so long. There are only one or two things that I dislike about these products but they have a very big impact in my (I think everyone else's too) browsing habits.

These are the specific things that gets on my nerves. While these may not effect other people, they directly collide with my web usage.

1. Firefox being bad!
  • Takes a long time to start.
  • Address bar does not support full google search (specially "define:" keyword)
  • Separate search box.
  • Separate download window. (There are some buggy add-ons to eliminate this)
2. Chrome being bad!
  • "Stop" button is at the right side. It should be moved to the left of the address bar.
  • Sometimes Tabs go "not responding" (more frequently than Firefox).
  • Some web pages are not rendered correctly.
3. Chrome being Good

Then I have the things which makes Chrome better than Firefox.
  • Really intelligent all-in-one address bar.
  • Simple and clean user interface.
  • Efficient use of screen real estate.
  • Download handling.
  • Starts up quickly.
Unfortunately, I don't have anything that makes Firefox stand out on Chrome. So right now there are 2 things that could make this world a better place:
  1. Make a Firefox that doesn't have bad features listed in (1).
  2. Make a Chrome that doesn't have bad features listed in (2).
I believe any of these things will produce a completely good browser. Personally I like the 2nd choice because I prefer Chrome due to its simpleness.

What's your choice? any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Download the same torrent from Windows and Ubuntu

Thanks Kasun for pointing out this feature to me.

If you are a torrent downloader and a person who needs to switch between Windows and Ubuntu frequently, you need to continuously download your torrents from both operating systems. Most torrent clients facilitates this requirement. I'm going to demonstrate this feature using 2 bittorrent clients named, uTorrent (Windows) and Transmission (Ubuntu). But this can be applied on any modern torrent client.

What actually happens here is each client starts downloading from where the other client left off. Obviously for this, both clients must save the files to the same location on the hard disk.

I'm going to start with Windows assuming you are running uTorrent on it. I assume you don't need much explanation with uTorrent.

Starting the torrent

  1. Download and save the .torrent file you need.
  2. Start the download from uTorrent. But when you give the download location, save it to a path where it is accessible from Ubuntu as well. For this example I'll assume it is D:\Downloads.
  3. Suppose in the middle of the download you decided to go to Ubuntu. Assume you were at 41% of the download.
Continuing the torrent from Ubuntu
  1. If you haven't done so already, install Transmission from the Synaptic Package Manager in Ubuntu. It's pretty easy and straightforward to configure if you are a torrent user.
  2. You can access Transmission from Applications -> Internet menu.
  3. Open the same .torrent file you used before. (or you can download it again) It will be opened from Transmission and You'll get the Torrent Options dialog box. (Note the 0% download progress of files)
  4. For the Destination Folder, give the same location you used before. For example, on Ubuntu it may be something like /media/sda2/Downloads.
  5. If you have done it correctly, download progress of all files should be automatically updated. If not, you can click the "Verify Local Data" button to update the download progress. (This will take some time for large torrents)
  6. Click "Add" to start the download. Transmission will continue downloading from where you left off earlier.
Continuing from Windows
  1. You can also continue the torrent from Windows if you decide to leave Ubuntu and go to Windows.
  2. Open uTorrent. The old torrent entry must still be there. Stop the torrent if it is running.
  3. Right click the torrent and click "Force Re-Check" from the menu. uTorrent will update the download progress of the files. (This will take some time for large torrents)
  4. When it has finished updating you can start the torrent to continue downloading from that point.
  5. This procedure is the same for Transmission. You can right click the torrent and choose "Verify Local Data".
The procedure should not be much different even if you use other torrent clients. There maybe some different terms they may be using but the basics are the same.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Solve Ubuntu Network Manager problems

If you are a user of Ubuntu 8.10 or 9.04 you know how awful the built-in Network Manager is. It doesn't save your settings, and settings doesn't get applied so it's literary impossible to change your IP address using it.

One solution is to remove the Network Manager and edit the network configuration files manually. But there's an easier approach. You can install Wicd to do the configuration for you. This is an alternative to the default network manager which does it job right. It's really simple and straightforward to use.

Here are the simple steps required.
  1. Install wicd through Synaptic Package Manager.
  2. Network Manager will be removed from the tray panel when you install wicd.
  3. Go to System -> Preferences -> Startup Applications and disable the Network Manager.
  4. If newly installed wicd network icon isn't there in the tray panel, launch it from Applications -> Internet -> Wicd Network Manager. It will start automatically from next startup.
  5. In the Wicd Manager, expand Wired Network section and click Advanced Settings.
  6. Enter your IP address details here. The settings will be applied as soon as you click the OK button.
  7. You can open a terminal and type "ifconfig" to check whether the IP address settings have been correctly applied.

iPhone device timeout error when syncing

A person I know began getting a "Device Timeout Error" when syncing his iPhone with iTunes. All his contacts, photos were being synced but the problem occurred when syncing Music and video. Both iPhone and iTunes were on latest software versions. The problem was fixed after following these simple steps.

Note. For this to work, your iPhone/iPodTouch has to be jailbroken.

I found the original solution from here. The solution is to delete /private/var/mobile/Media/iTunes_Control folder from the iPhone and sync with iTunes. This should work for both iPhone and iPodTouch.

Here are the detailed steps to follow.
  1. Download DiskAid or iPhoneBrowser. On Windows you need .Net Framework 2 for this. (I'm using DiskAid)
  2. Connect the iPhone to the computer. (close iTunes if it is running)
  3. Open DiskAid or iPhoneBrowser. It will show you the folder list of the iPhone.
  4. Navigate to the folder /private/var/mobile/Media and delete the "iTunes_Control" folder in there. (be very careful NOT to delete any other things)
  5. Close the application and Sync with iTunes.

I don't know the exact reason for this problem. But that person told he changed the USB port that he plugs the data cable. It may have something to do with changing USB ports or the machine you use to sync.

NFS Undercover

6.5 GB of Hard disk space required.

This is certainly not the crown jewel of the Need for Speed series. But it sure has some unique features (good and bad). The game features a story just like the last few versions. The game has a big open world, police, lot of cars and few unique event types. Time of day is set to the so called Magic hour where you experience a unique yellowish lighting condition.

Among few others, my favorite event was where thugs are chasing our girlfriend to smash her car. We are chasing those thugs to smash their cars and the city police are chasing all of us to take into custody. Cops seems somewhat easier to beat than in previous versions. Overall the game appears very artificial. Driving is not natural at all. Driving physics of NFS Undercover takes out the fun we had in previous versions.

I played this game with highest graphics detail and highest resolution. Graphics appear bit artificial. Shadows had to be turned off because they totally sucked! My system specs are here.

Here are some screenshots:

The famous Smoke engine from Pro-Street made it to Undercover.

The biggest problem in the game graphics was crappy Shadows. They suck big time so I turned them off as most users have done. Even in highest quality shadow edges are ridiculous and unnatural.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Burnout Paradise The Ultimate Box

3.2 GB of Hard disk space required.

This is one of the best racing games I've ever played. The game has no story though so it gets boring after a few days of playing. The main reason I loved this game was its graphics and gameplay experience. Designers have built realistic collisions, car damage and Matrix style slow-motion camera movement into the game. Its basically like watching a simulation when vehicles collide.
The game takes place in a large city called "Paradise City". There is no police so you are free to roam around and do all the crazy stuff you can do with your car. Performing stunts plays a big role in the game. There are no menus to access races. Every junction in the city is a starting point for a race. One of the hardest parts is finding your way to the finishing line. There's no GPS or any guidance so you have to rely on the map which shows the dense road network of the city.
The cars that exist in the game do not exist in the real world. Game uses an imaginary set of car models with imaginary manufacturers. Nevertheless their car designs are truly superb.

I played this game with highest graphics detail and highest resolution and graphics are very much realistic. My system specs are here.

The game world is heavily detailed and you get to drive through cities, mountains and so many other different terrines. Game features realistic lighting where you can see shadows change when the sun moves throughout the day.

Realistic collisions are shown with dramatic slowmotion camera angles.

Literally every part of the car is breakable. You can actually see tires break and fly away when you hit it hard.

This is what you get if you speed too much!

A moment captured in the middle of a jump.

Variety of vehicles are available. This includes 4x4 trucks, old classics, F1 cars and bikes.

Video uploaded by Thusitha :

The game gets bit repetitive since you get to play the same races again and again (with different cars) to get past levels. But you sure can enjoy freely roaming around the big city and performing stunts to your liking.